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  1. #61
    Member docvail's Avatar
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Hmmmm...

    A few comments related to some previous posts here...

    I own my own brand of watches, yet I still think of myself as someone who has a lot to learn about horology. I don't have to leave this thread to find people who know more than I do. Yet I still know more than the average or typical person reading a watch review online, and probably more than the person who wrote the review. But as much as I might know, I realize there is so much more, vastly more, that I do not yet know.

    Likewise, I have read blog reviews and found erroneous assertions, or comments about a watch that simply don't make sense, or show clear bias. For instance, I've read criticisms about affordable watches, criticisms which could be equally levied against more expensive, often exalted watches, but the reviewer would NEVER criticize the legendary watch equally. Design elements considered genius in a high-end piece are cardinal sins when executed in something under $500.

    I would not use that experience of mine, limited as it is, to suggest that all bloggers are biased/incompetent. I would suggest SOME are biased/incompetent, for whatever that's worth, but in order to recognize either bias or incompetence, one has to have sufficient knowledge of watches and reasoning ability.

    I've been extremely fortunate that all of the reviews of my watches which have been published have been largely complimentary, some larger than others. I attribute that to a few things. One, the watches I send to be reviewed are good watches. Two, most of the people reviewing them know a good watch when they have one in hand. Three, even if they didn't like the watch, or something about the watch, they'd need to overweight their review with positive comments, not because I'm paying them to do so (I'm not), but if they trash my watch, I'm not likely to send more, and other brands might think twice as well.

    That's not to say you can't find negative commentary, it's just to say you've got to recognize it when you see it, because it can be found. In two recent reviews of my watches, one reviewer made an offhand comment about not liking the brand logo, and the other criticized the bi-directional internal bezel:

    Lew & Huey Acionna Watch Review | Watch It All About

    The Lew & Huey Acionna, Take III | WristWatchReview.com

    Overall, the reviews were positive, but one was distinctly more positive than the other. When it comes to watch reviews by bloggers, you have to read between the lines, and also read many of them, to distinguish the praise from the pans.

    As a final comment, I'll admit that as good as I think my own watches are, I had one reviewer tell me, after having them long enough to do a review, he elected not to publish it, since he'd been moving his focus up-market, and my watches didn't hold up well by comparison. He gave me a couple of semi-specific complaints, none of which seemed "real" to me (in the sense that I'd not heard anything similar from anyone else, and couldn't identify the issues myself, or the issue was trivial, like an adhesive crown protector placed there by the factory being difficult to remove). Regardless, I thanked him for not publishing the review, since it sounded as if it might not have been positive on balance.

    One last comment - no one wants to read a negative review. Imagine being into cars, motorcycles, watches, or whatever, and the magazine or blog you're reading reviews a watch (or car, or motorcycle) that everyone knows is a piece of crap. What's the point? Would you buy a car magazine with the new Suzuki Craptastic sedan on the cover, with a headline, "Craptastic Sedan - Even Worse than you Thought!"?

    So if reviewers refuse to review the products no one likes, then what's left? Products they and most others *DO* like.

    So in answer to the question in the OP, "Why aren't there more critical blog reviews?" The answer is many-fold:

    1. Critical or not, sometimes blog reviews aren't worth reading (if you're looking for more than a superficial discussion of appearance and specs), depending on who wrote them, and that person's knowledge level, but more importantly, the knowledge level of the reader.

    2. Most reviews are either very positive, or mostly positive with faint criticism. You have to be able to recognize the criticism when you read it (refer back to point one, knowledge level of the reader).

    3. Nothing conspiratorial or lacking integrity, but in some cases, bloggers refuse to publish a bad review because readers don't want to read them.

    Regarding the analogy of watches to cars - they're alike to the extent that they're both mechanical gadgets some guys are into. But the analogy breaks down when it comes to the discussion at hand - cars can be much more exhaustively reviewed than watches can be. With watches, you get aesthetics and function, the aesthetics being a matter of taste, and the function being limited to a few things worthy of discussion in a review. Even if you were to get into such watch-nerdy topics as "beat rate versus power reserve" as analogous to "horsepower vs torque" or "power vs handling", the discussion of the former topic is far less interesting, and to far fewer people, than either of the latter topics.

    Chris "Who wants all reviews of his watches to be positive" Vail
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  2. #62
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by WrnrG View Post
    What exactly is there to give a completely negative review about a watch? Does it run? Does it tell time fairly accurately (within the acceptable +/-)? Does it have all its physical components (dial, hands, crystal, case, band)? If yes, then everything else is just a matter of preferences to aesthetics. The size of the watch, the materials the watch is made of, the makeup of the band and the style are all subjective things. All the reviewer can do is tell you what the watch is and what it's made out of and the price and then it's up to the consumer to decide if he wants it.

    Like, how do you review a solid gold chain? Here is a solid gold chain, it cost X amount, is X long and X thick, and looks like this. Can't really say whether it's a good chain or a bad chain... It's a gold chain.
    Isn't preference and size and looks everything about what a review is about? If one person likes it a lot, it gets a positive review, if he/she doesn't, then it gets a negative review. There is a reason most solid gold chains don't get reviewed -_-


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  3. #63
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    I think a watch review could center a bit more on mechanism and overall style (after all there are reviews on clothing lines). I think though if a review were on style people would dismiss it as shallow. A review focused on mechanism would be way over most people's head (even the ones here) and would require the sacrifice of a watch.

    Here on the internets, a blog review is usually pretty black or (mostly) white, as few will buy a watch and then trash it (how smart would they look then?). Plus a nuanced take on things does not generate the traffic that most are looking for. And a professional review (if such things exist), would still end up pointlessly torn apart by people who hate or love the brand (think CNN comments section or something like that). And those people would also complain about why there are so many ads on the page, so the review would never get funded.
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  5. #64
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    As long as the thing is properly built and the functions work, we're down to (a) design and (b) value. You won't buy it if the design doesn't work for you, it's almost entirely subjective and therefore difficult to give a plausibly popular thumbs-up or down on that front. Some love the PP Nautilus, some hate it. Saying it's striking takes care of that. Then, we're left with value (or perceived value, ho ho). This is where you're going to be comparing watches to each other, and putting a value on level of finish and materials, and hugely subjective things like the horological significance of the thing. If I were writing a watch blog I'd be real careful about rating watches against each other on those matters...for example, I bet if I were to compare the level of crown-end finishing on a GS vs a Rolex I'd be getting angry letters for possibly years judging by how those arguments play out here on WUS. Especially if you were to bring MSRP differentials into the argument! Lots of watch lovers cannot be moved from their positions vis-a-vis brands; some posters here, you get the feeling they'd sooner lose a finger than their high opinion of their favoured Swiss marque (actually, would be interesting to see who'd go for, "Chop off a pinky and we'll give you a Sub-C" - there are some real Rolex fanboys out there!)
    Chronopolis and docvail like this.

  6. #65
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rdenney View Post
    because cheap watches also perform well in these categories.
    Cheap watches can perform well also in the "artistic category", in fact it's easier to compete in the artistic category than in the technical one. At least if you can "unsee" the brand.

  7. #66
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Because extremely few self-appointed reviewers have enough knowledge of either general design principles or horology to do a proper critical assessment.

    Also, free hats.

  8. #67
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Tonight on Top Cog:

    Jeremy, James and Richard each wear a different day-date on stainless bracelet to a remote Indian village. Which was the better performer? The Rolex, the Seiko or the Chinese knock-off? Tune in at 7.30 to find out...

  9. #68
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fermenter View Post
    Tonight on Top Cog:

    Jeremy, James and Richard each wear a different day-date on stainless bracelet to a remote Indian village. Which was the better performer? The Rolex, the Seiko or the Chinese knock-off? Tune in at 7.30 to find out...
    I thought they were re-enacting WWII with a face off between the Bremont U2 and a Stowa flieger? :)


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  10. #69
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrchan View Post
    Isn't preference and size and looks everything about what a review is about? If one person likes it a lot, it gets a positive review, if he/she doesn't, then it gets a negative review. There is a reason most solid gold chains don't get reviewed -_-


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    Opinions of preferences to looks are pretty much useless because they are about preferences to looks. What the reviewer prefers aesthetically is irrelevant to the person reading it if it's just not something he's into. Just like I like blue-eyed blondes and my friend prefers ghetto Latinas. I mean, I love Latinas also but he doesn't care for blue-eyed blondes. His assessment of a blue-eyed blonde's beauty is irrelevant to me because I know he doesn't like them, but if he accurately assesses that she's a raging alcoholic psychopath with daddy issues who might pull out a knife on me over a disagreement about what to have for dinner, then it's something I'll take into consideration... Depending on how hot she is.

    I didn't think I needed to spell out that all reviews are basically about aesthetics Even though I mentioned that in my post. But as has been reiterated over and over and over again in this thread, most reviewers only review watches they already like anyway because they usually are watches they own, so it's pretty obvious they already liked the watch.

    On the other hand, they sometimes are sent watches for review. In this case those watch companies act almost like movie studios. When movie studios put out a movie that they feel is going to be a blockbuster and is good, they invite the press for an advanced screening about a week before the movie is released. This way movie reviewers (newspapers, magazines, blogs, etc.) can review the movie before the public goes out and "get the word out." It's pretty much free advertisement for the studios. Sometimes that backfires for the studios, but usually it works. When a movie is a piece of crap and the studio knows it's a piece of crap they won't even put the film up for review and members of the press have to buy tickets when it is released in order to write their reviews. This way the studio hopes to make money opening weekend before word gets out about how horrible its movie is. Since watches worth reviewing are far more expensive than a $15 movie ticket, reviewers can't really get into the practice of buying watches to review, lest they go bankrupt.

    Some watch companies send out watches to reviewers because it gets that companies name out there. For the most part, that company is not going to send out a piece of crap watch, because that would be an absolutely stupid move by whoever runs its marketing department.

    So what reviewers end up with is a) a watch he already owns and therefore already likes and b) the best watches a company has and therefore probably a good quality watch that also looks good.

    It's not a big mystery. Unless a watch is a complete piece of crap, the reviewer isn't going to pan it because the rest is a matter of aesthetic preference and the reviewer will usually point out his personal preferences (size, fit, materials, etc.). He's not going to say, "This 45mm case is gaudy because I have a 6' wrist and it doesn't fit me, therefore this watch is a piece of crap!" What he will say is, "This 45mm case looks a bit big on my 6' wrist but it should fit 6'3/4" and above wrists pretty well." See there, I just pointed out a personal issue with the watch (my wrist is 6'1/4") without going negative, because it is a matter of aesthetics and isn't enough to pan a watch, unless the materials are cheap, which they usually aren't.

    Was that clear enough for you?

    If you want a negative review have the Worn and Wound guys, the ABlogToWatch guys and the Hodinkee guys review some of those garish Invictas. But they won't, because they won't waste their time with those monstrosities.
    Damn it! Am I late again!?

  11. #70
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    Re: Why are there not more critical reviews on watch blogs?

    So I've talked to Ariel Adams about the review process, and basically he doesn't waste his time reviewing watches he thinks are crap. I asked him about a particular brand of watch once, and he said the company asked him to review one of their watches and he flatly refused because it was terrible. He reviews watches he thinks are cool or which his readers would appreciate, and there is really no shortage of interesting pieces.

    I can't speak for all watch blogs, but I do think Ariel takes his integrity very seriously. If you don't see a bad review it is because he has already filtered out the lousy products and what he is presenting has some merit.


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